In the increasingly globalized world, the composition of society becomes highly diversified. Workforce emerges from various ethnic groups, countries, and localities. In the U.S. as one of the most ethnically diverse countries, this issue is of particular importance.
Despite the fact that media, politicians, rights defenders, international organizations, and famous people advocate for combating discrimination, it still remains a major issue. In addition, poor work process safety and communication between different departments and employees undermine the stable performance of a company (Wong, 2017). It is hard to imagine, but even the biggest corporations with sufficient resources have such issues. Tesla Inc. demonstrates all of them, which put it within the scope of the current project (Levin, 2017).
The current project targets discrimination, work process safety, and communication breakdown between the bottom-level employees in Tesla and supervisors. Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada and the human resources department that manages it from California has become the object of the research. The research will review positive and negative sides of the HR management of Tesla in conjunction with the three major issues mentioned above and suggest certain strategies to overcome the said difficulties. The project proposes creating a focus group of HR professionals who will brainstorm the matter and work out possible solutions for Tesla.
Communication and Leadership Style Assessment
The first and one of the most important strength of communication and leadership style in Tesla is its inspirational goal as an organization. Innovation and technology are cornerstones of its philosophy and has been motivating thousands of people around the world to join forces with Tesla in advancing the new age of electromobiles. This is the essential part of both communication and leadership style – having people in the organization believe that together they strive towards a better future, that they make a difference. What is most important about Tesla is the fact that they mean it. Electric cars were invented and sold to mass market long before Elon Musk and his partners decided to create Tesla Motors in 2003. However, it is the inspirational leadership of Musk that has set the industry in motion and let the world become obsessed with the idea of the diesel-free environment. This seems to be actively used for recruiting and motivation of employees.
Among the major weaknesses of the company in the face of its executives and HR managers’ communication and leadership is the lack of stability. A solid-build and operational positive image of a company relies too much on the Musk’s personal charisma. It is always pleasing to listen to the oar-inspiring plans of his on bringing sustainable energy to every doorstep, but in these sweet words drown thousands of voices of his colleagues and employees. Once the company faces issues all eyes stare directly at him, at based on how he reacts depends on the brand’s future. Elon Musk is a great strategic and goal-oriented leader but is incapable to shine over all of his company’s problems for long. The recent scandals with employee discrimination surfaced, and Musk was confronted directly about them (Levin, 2017).
The main opportunity is the development of safe and effective communication practices (Efron & Bednarski, 2015). HR department has to seriously think over their current top-down decision making model and be more attentive to the issues of the company staff. The effective communication will help the company relieve itself from publicizing internal matters and resolving them quicker in order to maintain safe working conditions and workplace satisfaction.
The decline in Tesla’s growth that is seen from its announced quarterly loss $675 million (Rushe, 2018). The news of the company’s problems may undermine its overall successful recruitment strategy of positioning themselves as fast growing and successful company. The delay in production resulting from impairment of communication between industrial robot software developers and management evolved into the biggest failure of Tesla to meet its obligations before customers and, consequently, disappointed its works by tough conditions. Financial losses and communication problems that are closely intertwined can, in the worst case scenario, bring the company down if it is not flexible enough.
Table 1. SWOT analysis.
Communication and leadership are crucial in human resource management as they represent key aspects of establishing long-lasting and trusting relationships between the employer and employee. HR executives and the CEO are the most important people in facilitating that process. Tesla is a company that positions itself as an innovation-driven organization. It claims to employ cutting-edge technologies and change the world with their help. It delivers a strong message to the world, but it is also of importance to assess how it implements its vision on the inside.
The results provide a comprehensive image of a company’s human resources and leadership potential. Tesla has a strong image due to its leader’s charisma but he cannot resolve all issues partly due to his occupation as CEO of Space X. The problems with discrimination, workplace safety, and low productivity could potentially undermine the company’s future growth and stability. Therefore, they need to be addressed.
The weaknesses will be tackled by the project intervention that will create a focus group of professionals that will work together on identification and assessment of issues, solution developing, and its implementation. Possible solutions will include advices on hiring new HR executives, creating additional media personalities, establishing safe communication protocols and supervising compliance.
Motivating Project Team Strategy
Motivation is an essential component of team performance. A choice of universal motivation strategy for a project team is not always an option as people could have different sources of inspiration. An understanding of motivation presupposes three basic concepts it consists of, namely: direction, persistence, and intensity of influence (Reeve, 2014). The key thing in successful motivation is finding the right combination of these three factors. This means that it is paramount to find individual approach towards every member of the team to make it work as a unified body.
In assessing the motivation needs of each person on the team, a DISC paradigm could be used. This paradigm relies on determining behavior style of each player (Northouse, 2018). D stands for the director. D’s usually exhibit problem-identification and solving approach to everything and are more goal oriented. For them it does not matter if the problem is big or small, they are fascinated by the process of solving them and doing it right. I stands for influencers. I’s are inspired by having other people paying attention to what they have to say, and acknowledge their contribution. I’s are the most communicable people on the team and may act as a binding agent. Trust is of utmost importance to those type of people. S means steady relators.
S’s are steady-paced and determined people who do not trust other people easily. Once the trust is established, the full potential of S’s could be unleashed. If they are given the task, it is most likely that it will be done. C represents conscientious people. This is the type of persons who generally abide the rules even if they do not like them. Their strong side is logical approach and cautious decision-making. They usually receive satisfaction from achieving the goal within a set time or budget limits.
Having all group members take a short test to determine their DISC allegiance and determining the type of personality they have, it would be a much simpler task to find a tailored approach to motivation each member. Depending on the personality, composition of the team a range of motivation facilitation techniques could be used. Implementing a motivation plan requires cunning and keeping in mind personal goals of each team member while prioritizing company objectives. To better devise a working plan that will satisfy everybody it could be a wise idea to switch various tasks between team members to see who is coping with which one best. An interesting and challenging task is a good motivator that allows contributing better.
Rewarding performance is also a prominent tactic that is widely used in companies (Northouse, 2018). Top-performing employees should be praised in a manner that is open but not offensive to others. It is also paramount to balance work and entertainment. Teambuilding should address that and contribute to strengthening the bonds between team members and encouraging fruitful cooperation and competition at the same time. Therefore, fun game contests or picnics could be organized. A survival quest in a park could become an extremely entertaining fresh and challenging experience for a team (see fig. 1).
The plan is adjusted in a way that each month a gaming team-building activity is planned. This way there is time to schedule and balance workload and positive education and leisure experience. Additionally, planning could help involve team members themselves in choosing the activity they all want to participate in. In this manner, they could learn to bridge their differences and balance everyone’s needs.
Project Conflict and Stress Identification Process
The conflicts can arise from a variety of situations (Northouse, 2018). Since a team is aimed at solving discrimination and communication problems within Tesla, they could have different opinions on how to proceed with this task. The lack of privileges could be another source of frustration. The issues the team would have a capacity to eliminate may be limited, and the team would struggle to change the company HR policies at a deeper level to which they would not have access. Additionally, interpersonal conflicts is a threat that should under no circumstances be underestimated. Each person could say or do something that others may dislike or judge. While most people do it silently, others might engage in an open confrontation. Such situations are best identified and avoided at earlier stages.
Another important source of conflict is a workload disparity. Some members of the team might not be content if they feel like their contribution to the team’s project goal is considerably bigger than that of the others. This is a manager’s priority to give each person a task to fit his skills and make sure that everyone is awarded in accordance with their contribution.
The conflict about work issues such as deciding on the HR intervention to reduce discrimination could be considered non-destructive and rather creative in nature. With certain mediation, a consensus is usually achievable.
The same sources can become stressors if managed improperly or unmanaged at all. One of the possible solutions is prevention through close observation, monitoring and personal conversations that do not let the conflict to arise. Stress could also stem from personal life issues. Managing such cases requires utmost care for the feeling of a team member. The explicit will to help should be expressed and given if asked. It will also be advisable to have each team member to participate.
Consensus Decision-Making Process
Being able to reach consensus within a team is critical as is it is a factor that determines the stability of a group as a solid unit within the company (Northouse, 2018). It is a completely normal situation when the made decision is not unanimous. In a creative environment such as HR department, a problem could be viewed from a variety of perspectives and managed in a variety of ways. The very nature of this team is problem-solving, which entails and encourages every member of the team to contribute as equals. In case some clash of fundamental principles between team member happens, there would arise the necessity for finding a person or an entity that would serve as an authority to each party. Such person or entity will determine the outcome in favor of one or another. There is also a possibility of finding a third solution that would satisfy the arguing parties relieving them of a binary choice.
Conflict Management Strategy
Depending on the nature of the conflict, a variety of conflict resolution strategies could be applied. In the framework of this project, it is seen fit to use productive strategies such as accommodation, collaboration, and compromising (Northouse, 2018). Accommodation usually includes one party subsiding to another. This outcome could be possible but will include some persuasion from other team members by voicing their support in favor of a decision. Collaboration requires the two parties begin working out a solution that fits both of them. It is the most desired outcome as it builds trust, strengthens the ties and creates a unique solution in the end. Compromising could also become the choice. It involves both parties making concessions to another in order to reach an agreement.
The usual conflict resolution procedure should include identification, acknowledgment of each party’s point of view, an attempt to apply one of the above-mentioned strategies, and, in case neither solution helps, a third party from another company should be considered as an intervention. A clear procedure should be established, coordinated and approved with Tesla board in accordance with which the team should be able to proceed with conflict resolution.
Project sponsors are the party that is mostly concerned with the performance and final outcomes rather than the choice of solutions and the course of action. As allocators of resources with the company their prime interest most likely revolve around returning their investments with profit. Therefore, to engage in communication with sponsors the team has to have a less detailed report but one that has clearly outlined achievements and progression. Progress report, therefore, would be a preferable solution in this case. In the process of presentation, several points should be taken into consideration.
Firstly, the person presenting the report should be aware of all team’s processes and well educated about the company’s business, in general, to be able to answer any question. Secondly, a report should be concise yet informative. Thirdly, prognoses and schedules should be included as investors often want their funds to be returned as soon as possible. Such reports need to be made annually or every six months to ensure some palatable results can be shown.
The main project stakeholders are the employees at factories and offices that face discrimination and suffer from unsafe working conditions. Regular communication should be established with this group, as their feedback is most essential for the team’s work progress. Weekly or monthly sessions might be needed in accordance with the density of the flow of issues. The preferred type of report could also be specified through collaboration, but analysis and status reports will be a default choice.
Other stakeholders are managers who supervise the workers at factories as they are believed to be the source of abusive practices. Their side of the matter will also be reviewed, and reports will be made as per the nature and results of meeting sessions. The sessions themselves might me held as needed but no less frequent than every two months.
For inner communications with the team, informal oral process report could be sufficient. Such status updates could be required each day or each week depending on the deadline of the task assigned to a certain. For data collection and maintenance, however, electronic versions of progress and process reports will be required. The periodicity might vary in accordance with the company standards. According to the author’s assumptions and corporate knowledge, such reports can be made once a month or once a quarter.
The press could be also approached by the team leaders in order to restore the image of the company. The preferred form of communication could be press release containing the main achievements of the team. Interviews and statements could also be possible variants of sharing the information with the media. However, it is preferable that the team regulates the amount of voiced information by itself. Frequency will be determined by the pace with which results will be achieved. First results are expected within the first half of the year, in which the team will initiate the project.
Project Leadership Strategy
The preferred leadership strategy for Tesla would include transformation. Transformational leadership will help identify the need for change in the key structures of the company, elaborate a vision that will guide employees and managers towards that vision and will use a group of dedicated supporters to help implement it. This type of leadership addresses a variety of motivational and moral issues, helps strengthen retention strategies and increases job performance (Northouse, 2018). In light of the discrimination accusations, allegations in workplace safety violations, long hours, and ineffective communications, this leadership style is clearly required to help Tesla facilitate the transition to safe, discrimination-free, transparent and efficient HR management.
The possible challenges will be to identify the incompetent staff and establish fail-safe procedures against discrimination. Identification is toughened that no evidence could be found on the abusers except for the words of former employees. New protocols could require significant and expensive changes, which, in light of the recent financial problems might become a burden.
When the focus group or project team is concerned, democratic leadership could be applied. Democratic leadership underlines the equality of team members in their rights and commitment to the cause of the team and the ability to influence decisions. This style of leadership fits teams with creative tasks (Northouse, 2018). The free environment for discussion will encourage team members to contribute and share their ideas on how to shape Tesla into an effective company. This can be deemed possible within the framework of the project as tasks and skills of the group members should be similar. The team leadership model will underline the need for equality and non-discrimination in workplaces and the ability to reach consensus with near-equal participation and contributions.
For stakeholders, democratic leadership should also perform fine. As it was said earlier, both supervisors and workers need to see that there is a possibility to work together and with no need for negativity. The two sides should be brought to a discussion where they could settle differences or file a collective petition to the higher management with a claim to improve working conditions with support from the project team. Investigations should be help prior to that in order to find proof of discrimination and communication breakdown.
The continuous interviews, cross-referencing facts, collecting evidence should identify those responsible for the non-professional behavior. Effective communication issues will be investigated within the framework of Nevada Gigafactory and its malfunctioning robotic conveyer line. The identified miscommunication issues will be reported to higher management and further improvements will be required depending on the results of the inspection.
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